Vandal Soccer Picked To Finish 4th In WAC Poll - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Idaho Vandals Soccer

Vandal Soccer Picked To Finish 4th In WAC Poll

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Three Vandals made the WAC preseason all-conference list this year (Photo: Univ. of Idaho Athletics) Three Vandals made the WAC preseason all-conference list this year (Photo: Univ. of Idaho Athletics)
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by Univ. of Idaho Athletics

The Western Athletic Conference announced its preseason women's soccer coaches poll and preseason all-WAC team, and the University of Idaho garnered fourth-place billing and three all-WAC picks, including Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.

"It's a huge improvement on where we've been," Vandal head coach Pete Showler said. "We've been picked seventh and eighth and last year we upset a few people, but lost in the first round of the WAC Tournament. Now we've got to make sure that we prove ourselves when it matters."

It came as little surprise that junior Chelsea Small, the 2009 WAC Freshman of the Year and 2010 WAC Offensive Player of the Year, earned Preseason Offensive Player of the Year accolades. Through two seasons at Idaho, Small has been twice honored as first-team all-WAC and has netted 21 total goals, with eight assists and 10 total game-winners.

Joining Small on the preseason all-WAC team are junior midfielder Jill Flockhart, a first-team all-WAC pick from a year ago, and senior goalkeeper Liz Boyden, who took second-team accolades last season.

Flockhart is a speedy outside mid who has six goals and five assists through two Idaho seasons. She had a team-leading three game-winners in 2009 and dished out four assists in 2010. Boyden is a senior who is set to break nearly every Idaho career goalkeeping record this year. She already holds Idaho's all-time standard in goals against average (1.28), wins (23) and shutouts (11).

"It's fabulous that we have three recognized there because there were times when we didn't have any, so it certainly shows where we're at," Showler said. "It's about a team event and team effort, and we're all about proving ourselves as a team."

As a team, the Vandal women were picked to finish fourth in the league standings. San Jose State and Utah State tied for first in the poll with three first-place votes and 42 points each, while Fresno State was third with 38 points and two first-place nods.

Idaho had 33 points for fourth place, and Louisiana Tech (20), Nevada (18), Hawai`i (17) and New Mexico State (11) rounded out the poll.

"Fourth is fine with us," Showler said. "We want to go out there and prove people wrong. I don't really care where we finish, as long as we win the WAC Tournament."

The fourth-place tab is the highest for Idaho since the team joined the conference. Before this season, Idaho had never been picked higher than seventh in the preseason voting.

USU and SJSU tied for first place in the 2010 regular-season WAC standings with 5-2-1 records, while Idaho and Louisiana Tech tied for third at 5-3-0. Last season marked Idaho's first conference tournament bid in school history, and the team's highest finish since joining the WAC in 2005.

Idaho returns all 11 regular starters and 16 letter winners from last year's squad. They returned a pair of 2010 redshirts in defender Alison Page and midfielder Kristi Atkinson, and added a talented group of nine newcomers from around the West region.

The Vandals start practice Aug. 3, and play their first matches on Friday, Aug. 19, and Sunday, Aug. 21, against UC Santa Barbara and UC Riverside, respectively, in the UNLV Rebel Classic at Las Vegas, Nev. Idaho's first home match at Guy Wicks Field will be Friday, Aug. 26, against Seattle University at 4:30 p.m.

"We can't wait to get out there – we're chomping at the bit," Showler said. "The girls have been stopping by today and they've told me that they're excited, and that they've been working hard and getting touches on the ball, and we'll find out on Wednesday.

"With nine new players, we've just got to get cohesive as quickly as possible, work as a team, and do the things we did well last season and build on them, and try to have consistency in everything we do. If we do that, the rest of it will take care of itself."

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